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War Russia – Ukraine. Black Sea, Black Sea Fleet on the defensive

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It cannot be said that the Ukrainians have control in the Black Sea, but they managed to effectively wrest control from the Russians, which should undoubtedly be considered a success for Kiev, says Mariusz Cielma, a military analyst. The expert mentioned three periods of activity of Russian ships – from the belief that the Russian fleet had a large advantage in the Black Sea, through limited Russian activity, to “a very strong defense”.

In February, the Ukrainian Army's Strategic Communications Center (StratKom) reported that since the beginning of the Russian military invasion, Ukrainian forces have disabled approximately 33 percent of the ships of Russia's Black Sea Fleetand the British Ministry of Defense talked about depriving Russia of the initiative in the Black Sea.

Military analyst, editor-in-chief of “Nowa Technika Wojskowa” Mariusz Cielma also believes that the Ukrainian army managed to push the Russian Black Sea Fleet into a corner and deprived Moscow of control in this area. In his opinion, this is due to “naval drones” and British and French cruise missiles.

– It is impossible to say that the Ukrainians have control in the Black Sea, but they managed to effectively wrest control from the Russians, which should undoubtedly be considered a success for Kiev – says Cielma.

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Read also: Media: Russian fleet without “eyes”. Effects of an attack on a reconnaissance ship

Three phases of the activity of Russian ships

The expert notes that since the beginning of the Russian invasion, when Russian ships operated basically freely near the Ukrainian coast and there was a serious threat of a landing in the Odessa area, “the situation has changed dramatically.”

– I would conventionally divide this past period into three phases of the activity of Russian ships. The first – it was the beginning of the war, when we were living with the threat of a landing somewhere near Odessa. Rather, everyone still operated on the principle that the Russian fleet had such an advantage that it should freely operate near the Ukrainian coast. The turning point was the cruiser Moskva (sunk by the Ukrainians in April 2022 with Neptun missiles), later – fight for Snake Island and its recovery by Ukraine – notes Cielma.

Russian ships in the Black Sea. Illustrative photo Shutterstock

See also: Ministry of Defense of Russia: cruiser Moskva sank

The next phase, which lasted approximately last year, was a period of limited Russian activity. – They tried not to leave the Crimean Peninsula, but they kept some ships in the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov. According to the Ukrainian Navy's communications, which I am following, there were 2-3 Russian vessels in both water areas every day. An attempt was made to control it with ships, says Cielma.

– The third phase began when Ukrainian hands came into possession of floating “kamikaze drones”, which enabled hunting of Russian units. Later, Western cruise missiles appeared, which are mounted on Su-24 bomber planes. And since then, the Russian fleet has been on a very strong defense – adds the analyst.

Read more: Kamikaze drones are cheap and deadly effective. Ukrainian soldiers demonstrate this

Kamikaze drones, cruise missiles

The mentioned floating “kamikaze drones” are several-meter-long boats, controlled via a Starlink satellite link, and equipped with a head with a day and night camera. They carry several hundred kilograms of explosive material. This tool, Cielma says, was and is mainly used to attack ships at sea or near ports.

– The last such attack on a patrol ship took place near the port of Sevastopol. The Ukrainians were so brave that with a group of such drones they basically organized a safari on a Russian patrol ship in the roadstead – reports Cielma.

Read also: Series of explosions in Crimea, Ukrainian headquarters reports attacks on large Russian landing ships

French SCALP missilesAndrey Vyrodov/Shutterstock

The second tool is the British version of Storm Shadow cruise missiles (SCALP-EG – in French), used to attack ships in ports and infrastructure, including communication nodes, commands, etc. Last year, they could have attacked the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. They have a range of up to approx. 400 km and are mounted on the Su-24, but, as the PAP informant points out, “Ukrainians probably don't have that many of them anymore.”

– The Ukrainians took away the ability of the Russians to control the sea, but it cannot be said that this was done by the forces of the Ukrainian navy, because it operates mainly “in exile”. A bit similar to the Polish fleet during World War II, when it could not operate in the Baltic Sea. Maritime drones are the domain of a special group within HUR, the Ukrainian military intelligence service. Missile attacks, in turn, are the work of the air force, the expert points out.

The Ukrainians seriously damaged the Russian shipAndrzej Zaucha./Fakty TVN

Ukraine has “cut out” its grain route

He adds that thanks to this, the grain route operates. This is undoubtedly a success for Ukraine, which – after Russia left the so-called grain agreement under the auspices of the UN and Turkey – basically “cut out this corridor” by pushing the Russians out of this part of the Black Sea.

– Because of this, Russia is unable to block it with ships. Of course, it is within the range of missiles, but in such a case, Russia would only be able to take a very one-on-one, radical action, i.e. attack directly against civilian ships. With the ships there, the Russians could act differently, e.g. by firing a cannon shell in front of the vessel's bow or sending a boarding group on board, explains Cielma.

“The Russians have no idea for this fleet”

Last year, the main base of the fleet was moved further east, from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk, but in his opinion “this port is worse prepared in terms of shipbuilding and operational security.”

– For several weeks (except for individual days when Russia carried out massive missile attacks on Ukraine), there has been virtually no Russian ship in the Black Sea or the Sea of ​​Azov. The Russians clearly have no idea for this fleet, information about another change of its commander has recently appeared – says the expert.

Ukrainian intelligence publishes a recording of the destruction of the corvette "Ivanowiec"

Ukrainian intelligence publishes video of the destruction of the corvette “Ivanowiec” Military Intelligence of Ukraine

However, as he points out, the Russians “have not given up the field” completely. They use aviation over the area, trying to look out for Ukrainian activity by means of helicopter patrols or jet planes.

Starting with the symbolic “sinking of Moscow”, the Ukrainians successfully carried out attacks on various types of Russian units. – It started with the cruiser Moskva, it was undoubtedly the greatest success. It was also defeated using traditional means – anti-ship missiles belonging to the coastal defense system. Later, the Ukrainians had to sail away from their shore and enter the area that the Russians considered under their control. There were attacks on missile frigates, basic units in fleets, corvettes, and patrol ships. The largest group of attacked ships are landing craft, which are currently used by the Russians as part of the maritime logistics route, says Cielma.

Main photo source: mil.ru

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